1939 Sept 3rd WAR DECLARED - World War 2
The start of the war in 1939 drew Joan into the Red Cross and the excitement of wartime London. The outbreak of war seemed to have stopped her studies. She joined the Red Cross in Marylebone, having had lunch with Max Pirani in October, no doubt to discuss the future. She went on to have lessons in Home Nursing, First Aid and anti-Gas training.
Although Joan was busy in the first year of the war at a Red Cross Post, it should be remembered that bombing of London did not occur until about September 1940. At about the same time that she started with the Red Cross, she moved from 95 Queens Gate in South Kensington to 12 Granville Place, Portman Square W1. It seems that the main activity of this first wartime blitz lasted until May 1941.
At present there is no 1940 diary, but during November Joan seems to have become quite ill and was admitted to Middlesex Hospital for a week and then on to Mount Vernon in Northwood. The general view was that she had been overdoing it. There is a letter in December 1940 from her Aunt Margaret, the Anglican Priest’s wife, who was then staying in Cumberland with her three children, having a go in somewhat oblique language at Joan’s behaviour. The hospitalisation period was in fact two months after the beginning of the first blitz in London. This lasted about 8 months and it should be noted that it was during this period that Gwen Marshall and Paul Rowntree met up in a First Aid Post in the City, near St Barthlomews, and were married within two years, but that is another story.